LGBT Groups File Amicus Brief at U.S. Supreme Court for Immigrants’ Rights
As queer Asian American Pacific Islander communities who have an investment in abolishing immigration detention and deportation, this has been quite a week. On Monday, Jeb Bush explained that anchor babies are not a Latino phenomenon—but rather an Asian one. Through his comments, Bush again posits Asian Americans as “forever foreigners,” coming to the U.S. to stage a takeover of the country by the simple act of having children. This is an old trope and one that paints Asian Americans as less than full people in this country.
Queer APIs are dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” immigrants who can never become fully part of the U.S. or fully human.
On the same day, Joseph Pemberton admitted to strangling Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, to death. He used a ‘trans panic’ defense in court, citing his shock at discovering Jennifer was trans* as justification for murdering her. Transwomen of color are routinely targets of harassment, violence, and murder. Last Tuesday, Black Transwomen led a national day of action to say that Black Transwomen’s Lives Matter. For API transwomen like Jennifer Laude, the combination of transphobia and racism is too often deadly.
Queer APIs are dehumanized as transwomen, seen as less than human and then blamed for transphobic violence.
Next month, ICE is threatening to move detained immigrant transwomen to Adelanto, a facility known for the abuse and death of its inmates. We can’t pretend that these occurrences aren’t all connected. Asian immigrants are seen as foreigners, not true Americans, not real people in this country. Transwomen are seen as freaks, as deceivers, as less than human. We stand at the intersection of various forms of dehumanization, which allow immigration officials to play dominoes with the lives of detained transwomen.
Queer APIs say #EndLGBTQDetention because we are sick of being dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” as trans deceivers, as immigrants.
We stand with those most marginalized in our communities, and commit ourselves to fighting for liberation, together. Nobody should be in immigration detention, and especially not at Adelanto. As queer APIs, we cannot remain silent as members of our community are subjected to incredible acts of violence by the U.S. state.
That’s why, as NQAPIA, we refuse to be a political stunt and derided as “anchor babies.” We demand that Joseph Pemberton be held accountable for his transphobic and racist murder. We demand that the transfer of transwomen to Adelanto be stopped.
These issues are all connected—and yes, they are killing us.
The process and language around the injunction blocking the expanded DACA & DAPA programs can get confusing. President Obama announced executive action on immigration in November 2014, but expanded DACA and DAPA have been caught in a legal debate ever since. Here are some fast facts for LGBTQ AAPI folks to stay informed!
Arpaio vs. Obama:
- Joe Arpaio, our favorite xenophobic & racist sheriff from Arizona (remember S.B. 1070?) immediately filed a court case against the Obama administration. He claimed that the Executive Action would directly harm him because “criminals would not be deported” under the new law.
- Arpaio lost this challenge.
Texas vs. United States:
- 26 states filed a lawsuit against the United States, claiming that the Obama administration overstepped their constitutional authority with the Executive Action on November 20th.
- The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction, or temporary block, of the expanded DACA & DAPA programs, pending a trial. This is why these programs have not yet opened for applicants.
- In response the U.S. government asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a higher federal court, for an emergency “stay,” or pause, on the injunction during the appeal process. In other words, the Obama administration asked the court to allow expanded DACA & DAPA to proceed while the lawsuit continues. On May 26th, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request for a stay. So for now, the new programs are still not running.
- The U.S. government also appealed the preliminary injunction itself to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, on an expedited basis. A hearing for this appeal will take place on July 10th in New Orleans. This is the next big step in this court case.
- If the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules to uphold the injunction against the Obama Administration, next steps for the U.S. government could include:
- Asking for a review by all 15 judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Currently, only 3 judges are hearing this case.)
- Appeal the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- If the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down the preliminary injunction , and rules in the Obama administration’s favor, we expect the expanded programs will finally be open for applicants.
As a reminder: the injunction & court cases are only regarding expanded DACA & DAPA. If you qualified for DACA before Executive Action in November, you should still apply! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or need support.
The President’s Immigration Action paved a path for administrative relief for many people in our communities. It also created a new set of priorities for immigration enforcement that have resulted in thousands of people being profiled, detained, and deported in a matter of months.
Racial and religious profiling is rampant all over the country, including in immigrant communities. There is little to no accountability of law enforcement. The revised Department of Justice’s guidance on profiling sets a standard but has no accountability measures and exempts the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement agencies.
The Immigration Action states that vulnerable populations should not be prioritized for detention, yet LGBTQ folks continue to be locked away in detention centers where they are harassed and beaten. Trans* folks continue to be housed in centers based on their assigned sex, not gender identity, and put in solitary confinement for their supposed “protection” from others in the detention center.
Communities of color, including Cambodians, continue to be fed into the school-to-deportation pipeline. Many from Cambodian communities are locked away and in the process of being deported back to a country from which they took refuge.
Tell President Obama to hold his administration accountable to ending racial and religious profiling, detention, and deportations.
Help us collect petitions!
Download the President Immigration Enforcement Petition PDF, and send them to email@example.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
End the use of racial and religious profiling
Our communities have been the targets of profiling by law enforcement based on various dimensions and intersections of our social identities. Under the immigration enforcement regime, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and Southeast Asian communities have continued to be especially vulnerable, being subject to unjust profiling based on race, religion, and national origin—real and perceived.
The Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity is an attempt at a guideline for federal law enforcement agencies to curtail rampant profiling. Citing the routine reason of protecting national and border security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), among several others, are exempt from these guidelines. This exemption continues to give license to some of the most egregious, profile-based policing in our country, including the targeting of our community as perceived “terrorists” and “gang members.” This deprives already vulnerable communities of their civil liberties, and opens the doors to massive detention and deportation.
Many Muslim communities also face profiling within the immigration visa processing. Individuals are profiled by their last names and country of origin and put through extra screening and interviews, resulting in backlogs in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; we need clear policies that hold all agencies accountable for their unconstitutional profiling practices and demand action on all complaints of improper profiling in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; end racial and religious profiling for all communities. Close the loopholes in the DOJ Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity that allow DHS, CBP, and TSA to continue profiling.
What is Racial Profiling?
Racial profiling is when police or government agents use race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion to decide whom to stop, question, or arrest. Racial profiling is humiliating, harmful, and makes us less safe. Here are some of the ways racial profiling is used today:
- War on Drugs: For the past 40 years, Black, Latino, and Southeast Asian people have been targeted by police under the “War on Drugs,” even though studies consistently show that white people are just as likely (or more likely) to use and sell drugs.
- War on Terror: Since September 11, 2001, members of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities have increasingly been searched, interrogated, detained, and deported by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and local police in the name of “national security.”
- Criminalizing Immigrants: Members of immigrant communities are targeted by police under the guise of immigration enforcement. State laws like Arizona’s SB1070 and collaborations between Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and local police encourage racial profiling.
Uncovering Our Stories: Maya Jafer
“I was born and raised in the south of India in Madurai, Tamil Nadu with my parents, older brother and younger sister. I was born into a very religious Muslim family. My parents gave me the name Mohammed Gulam Hussain though now, as a post-operative transsexual female, I am Maya Jafer. My journey to the US began in 2000, at the age of 30, when I moved to Seattle on an F-1 student visa to complete my second doctorate in Natural Medicine. The past decade has been a tremendous struggle for me. Though I entered this country legally, I faced intense discrimination as a Muslim in the post-9/11 world. My last name—Hussain—did not help, and I often dealt with interrogations concerning my perceived (and false) association with Saddam Hussein. I often wished for stronger protections against this profiling and discrimination in immigration and law enforcement.”
Read Maya’s story at www.nqapia.org/uncovering-our-stories-maya-jafer
- Get YR Rights Network
- It Starts at Home: Confronting Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities by the Queer South Asian National Network
- Rights Working Group
- South Asian American Leading Together
Queer Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities face forms of profiling. However, at this time with the horrendous police killings of Black people in the US, it is important to focus on how Black lives are targeted by the police. We must work in solidarity as AAPI communities to support Black communities.
All over the country, numerous trans* folks of color have also been profiled and killed by police officers; increased community raids in immigrant communities profile “undocumented” and so called “dangerous” immigrants; and Islamophobia has heighted hate crimes with profiling of South Asian and Muslim community members.
Take advantage of the Week of Action to connect the issues and focus on the impact of profiling in your area. We recommend you start by sharing stories, watching a film, or talking about current cases in your community. Use the resources provided in this factsheet or videos in the “Other Resources” section to start a dialogue, and use the questions below to guide your discussion.
- If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
- What are your personal experiences with racial and/or religious profiling? Have you been profiled or witnessed profiling? How did it make you feel?
- Through media and social media the world has witnessed the killing of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tony Robinson and countless others who have lost their lives to police profiling and brutality. How has your community reacted to the loss of these innocent lives?
- Does colorism/racism in our Asian (American) communities impact the systematic use of racial profiling by police officers? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What experiences does the community-at-large have with profiling? How does this impact your queer AAPI community?
- Does profiling fit into the larger system of detention and/or deportation of people of color? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What are some solutions to racial and religious profiling in your community?
- Are there ways you can act locally to stop racial and religious profiling in your community? How can you support current efforts?
Sign the Petition to End Racial and Religious Profiling HERE!
Download the NQAPIA End Racial Profiling Fact Sheet.
On February 16, just two days before the expanded DACA was supposed to open, a federal district court in the Southern District of Texas temporarily blocked its implementation. As of March, the district court in Texas still has not ruled on the government’s request for an emergency stay. As a result, the Department of Justice is seeking an emergency stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. As of April, the court has not yet issued its decision, but we need these lawful, common-sense policies implemented as soon as possible.
What does that mean?
The expanded DACA and DAPA programs are temporarily put on hold until the decision is overturned. The federal government is seeking an emergency stay, so people can apply for the expanded DACA and DAPA programs as soon as possible.
Why did this happen?
In December, 26 attorneys generals and governors filed this lawsuit as an anti-immigrant political and PR stunt. They chose to file this in a very conservative area in Texas and with anti-immigrant U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.
Texas decided that the federal government had not followed the Administrative Procedures Act’s requirements. The federal government did not use those procedures because the initiatives are discretionary—which exempts them from those procedures.
What will be the verdict?
Texas is not following legal precedent. In a public statement, DHS said, “The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority.” President Obama has said, “The law is on our side, and history is on our side.”
Read more about potential reactions from other states.
What is the timeline?
We do not know when things will be put off hold, but those who are eligible to apply should continue applying for the original 2012 DACA program and prepare for the expanded DACA program and DAPA program when they do open.
Read more about the stay.
We are expected to hear a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court any day. At the beginning of July, the courts will hear oral arguments regarding the Department of Justice’s appeal on Judge Hanen’s ruling.
Why does this matter?
There are 11 million undocumented immigrants, and over 1.3 million of them are of Asian descent. There are 4.4 million people waiting in visa backlogs, and 1.6 million of them are in Asia. Nearly 500,000 APIAs may benefit from the expanded DACA and DAPA programs. In all, these programs allow families to stay together and remove fear of deportation.
Read more immigration statistics.
What else is going on?
The Senate tried to defund DACA, DAPA and immigration policy changes dated Nov. 20 or 21, 2014 as well as those made on/after Jan. 9, 2015. Fortunately, Senator Susan Collins’ bill S. 534 failed on procedural vote in the Senate and has been rejected by NCAPA, policy experts, DREAMers, the ACLU, and more.
DHS is funded and will not go through a shutdown. Read more.
Cross Check Arrests and Deportations
From March 1-5, 2015, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) led nationwide raids targeting undocumented immigrants. They arrested 2,059 individuals from 94 countries—majority of the people arrested had misdemeanors. It has been reported that 15 of the people arrested had DACA. Many of those arrested are subject to immediate removal from the US, while others are in ICE custody, awaiting a hearing or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future. President Obama committed to helping our communities, but the actions of his administration are tearing our families apart. We do not support these operations that promote profiling, detention and deportation of our communities. If you or a community member have been caught in a raid and need support, please contact email@example.com.
Read the DHS press release.
What about visa updates?
On April 1, 2015, USCIS will accept H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2016 cap (65,000). The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. We recommend that you file within the first five business days. If they receive an excess of petitions during that time, they will begin to use a lottery system to randomly select who fits within the cap. Those who do not make the cap will automatically be rejected.
As of May 26, 2015, the spouse and children of H-1B visa holders may apply for an H-4 visa. Those with H-4 visas may obtain a driver’s license, pursue education, open a bank account, and may obtain a tax ID for employment purposes.
Read a commendation from NCAPA.
What is NQAPIA’s work on immigration?
You can find out more about NQAPIA’s work on immigration here.
President Obama issued a request for information on the subject of modernizing and streamlining the US visa system. NQAPIA provided feedback in regards to streamlining visa processing for family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visas, operational changes for visa petitions, how to fully and fairly allocate visas each year, sharing priorities in data collection, and more. We are waiting for a response from USCIS. Check out NQAPIA Comments for Visa Modernization RFI.
We are working to ensure all LGBTQ communities are included in upcoming relief. Tell President Obama, Don’t Discriminate Against LGBTQ Immigrants. Join NQAPIA, Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and other partners in asking President Obama to include LGBTQ immigrants without children in upcoming relief. Sign the petition!
Join us for RISE UP! Week of Action on Immigration. Demand an end to profiling, detention and deportation of our communities.
NQAPIA is regularly involved in advocacy meetings with DHS and the White House, and we react and respond with the needs of our community. If you would like to work with us on immigration or other issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get updates at our Immigration Corner.
NQAPIA Executive Director
Commensurate with professional experience
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) seeks an Organizer who will engage NQAPIA’s alliance of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations and mobilize the community on variety of efforts, including immigrants’ rights, increasing LGBTQ AAPI visibility, and coordinating and recruiting for trainings, conferences, and leadership Summits. (Exact title may be changed depending on experience.)
The ideal candidate should be a strong team player with a strong interest/background in grassroots organizing, community mobilization, immigration, social justice, and AAPI and LGBTQ issues to further support our programming and local and national field actions.
The National Queer Asian Pacific IslanderAlliance is a federation of LGBTQ AAPI organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ AAPIgroups, develop leadership, promote visibility, educate our community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations, and challenge homophobia and racism.
Membership Engagement and Leadership Development: Build relationships with local AAPI LGBTQ organizations. Encourage and support local advocacy and mobilization around immigrants’ rights and social justice. Promote leadership development through NQAPIA trainings at Leadership Summits and conferences.
Immigration Advocacy: Maintain NQAPIA’s advocacy work on immigrants’ rights. Support local field activities, provide national coordination with to amplify collective voice around immigrants’ rights, and connect with policy advocates in Washington, DC. Attend monthly meetings of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).
Media: Support NQAPIA’s communications work to amplify messages in the media (news media, social media, etc.) around immigrants’ rights, issues affecting AAPI and LGBTQ communities, and LGBTQ AAPI visibility. Promote NQAPIA’s “Uncovering Our Stories” campaign to highlight AAPI LGBTQ immigration issues.
Skills and Experience
Organizing Experience: At least 2-3 years of grassroots organizing experience (or related experience). Strong ability to cultivate individual relationships to inspire and support others to take action.
Leadership Development Skills: Strong ability to promote and train new leaders and facilitate meetings.
Strong Self-Starter: The ability to develop new ideas on how to accomplish goals and the wherewithal to get the work done.
Knowledge of Immigration: Working knowledge of immigration, immigration policy, and immigrant communities is helpful.
Knowledge of AAPI LGBTQ Communities: Relationships with AAPI LGBTQ organizations, leaders, and advocates is helpful. Knowledge of Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and/ or Pacific Islander languages is not required, but definitely a plus.
Passion for Social Justice Work: Motivation to create change and dogged persistence will be critical to run a campaign with many moving pieces.
Comfortable with Technology and Virtual Communication: An ability to work with local partners across the country across different communications platforms (e.g., telephone, e-mail, social media).
Education and Training: A college degree or 4-5 years of commensurate experience in the field is required.
Salary is competitive and is dependent on skills and experience. Health insurance, vacation, and other benefits are included.
Submit a one-page cover letter describing your qualifications and a current resume to Glenn Magpantay at email@example.com with the subject line “NQAPIA Organizer.”
Applications due by Feb. 23, 2015 or until filled.
e: info (at) nqapia (dot) org